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Collins v. Campbell

United States District Court, D. Maryland

August 20, 2019

DeJESUS COLLINS, #366-774, Plaintiff



         Self-represented Plaintiff DeJesus Collins, a State prisoner incarcerated at Jessup Correctional Institution ("JCI") in Jessup, Maryland, filed an unverified[2] Complaint pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 seeking unspecified damages against Correctional Defendants Warden Casey Campbell and Officer Ademola Adeniyi for an alleged sexual assault occurring on April 10, 2018. Now pending is an unopposed[3] Motion to Dismiss or, in the Alternative, Motion for Summary Judgment filed by Correctional Defendants Campbell and Williams. ECF No. 7.[4] For the reasons stated below, Defendants' dispositive motion, construed as a motion for summary judgment, [5] will be granted.


         A. Plaintiff Collins's Allegations

         Collins states that between 6:00 and 6:30 p.m. on April 10, 2018, he was in his wheelchair and under escort by Officer Adeniyi to attend a medical appointment. During this time Adeniyi "made sexual advances" while they were in the hallway near the psychology office. Compl., ECF 1, p. 2. Collins states they stopped in the hallway near the hospital restroom and when he told Adeniyi that he had to use the bathroom, Adeniyi stated "go on yourself so I can see." Id., pp. 4-5. Collins claims Adeniyi pushed him to an isolated hallway out of camera range where there were no witnesses and put his hand down his back. When Collins resisted, Adeniyi hit him in the back, causing Collins to fall from his wheelchair, where Adeniyi continued his assault. Id., p. 5. Collins states Adeniyi "backed off' when Collins started "holl[er]ing for help" and someone called a supervisor. Collins claims a captain responded to the request for a supervisor. Id.

         B. Defendants' Assertions[6]

         Defendant Adeniyi was on duty on April 10, 2018, working the 3-11pm shift, when he was ordered to escort Collins in his wheelchair from his cell to the medical unit for a scheduled IV drip. ECF No. 7-2, Decl. of Ademola Adeniyi, ¶ 3. After a nurse inserted the IV drip, Adeniyi escorted Collins and the attached IV stand to a nearby medical holding cell so the IV drip could be completed. Id. Roughly five minutes later, Collins asked to use the restroom, so Adeniyi escorted him to a nearby restroom. Id. After Collins left the restroom, he stated he would not return to the holding cell in case he needed to use the restroom again. He further stated he wanted to be transferred to housing at Jessup Regional Hospital ("JRH"), the prison hospital adjacent to the medical unit Id.

         Medical staff walking by told Collins that his transfer to JRH would not be possible at that time. Id., ¶ 3. By then, Collins's presence obstructed the flow of movement in the hallway as other prisoners began arriving at the medical unit for their scheduled medical visits. This created a potential security risk because Adeniyi was required to keep himself between Collins and other prisoners passing by in the hallway. Id. Adeniyi and other officers posted near the medical area asked Collins to agree to be taken to the holding cell to complete his IV drip, but he refused. Id.

         Adeniyi avers that in accordance with institutional procedures, officers may not make physical contact with wheelchair-bound prisoners without their consent. Id., ¶ 4. After about ten minutes, Collins still refused to be placed into the holding cell but agreed to be moved to a different part of the hallway near the psychology office, where there was no prisoner traffic. Id., ¶ 5. Once there, Collins began to push himself in the wheelchair towards JRH. Id. Adeniyi ordered him to stop and stood in front of Collins, blocking him from continuing any further in his wheelchair, then told Collins he was returning him back to the holding cell area. Id. When Adeniyi went behind the wheelchair to begin pushing him back to the holding cell area, Collins put his feet on the floor. Id., ¶ 6. When Adeniyi ordered him to pick his feet up from the floor, Collins stood up from the wheelchair and laid down on the hallway floor on his side, stating that he was not going anywhere until he saw a supervisor or captain. Id. Collins refused Adeniyi's orders to get back into the wheelchair. Id.

         A nurse passing by offered to hold the wheelchair while Adeniyi helped Collins back into the wheelchair; however, institutional procedure did not permit Adeniyi to make physical contact with Collins in that situation. Id., ¶ 6. Medical personnel tried to talk Collins into getting back into his wheelchair, but he refused. Adeniyi instructed an officer to call for the shift captain, who arrived within a couple minutes. Id. Following procedure, the Captain assumed custody of Collins and directed Adeniyi to exit the area in order to alleviate any possible escalation of the situation. Id. Later in his shift, Adeniyi learned of the allegations Collins made against him and was instructed to write a Matter of Record (MOR) statement. Id.; see also ECF No. 7-3, Serious Incident Report, pp. 12-13.

         Adeniyi avers he never made sexual advances towards Collins and did not state "go on [yourself] so I can see" as alleged in the Complaint. Id., ¶ 7. Adeniyi further avers that he never placed his hand down Collins's back, never struck Collins's back, causing him to fall out of his wheelchair, and never physically assaulted Collins. Id., ¶ 8. Adeniyi received no reprimand as a result of the allegations made against him. Id., ¶ 10.

         Defendants note that in light of Collins's allegations, a Serious Incident Report (SIR) investigation was conducted by the shift captain. ECF No. 7-3, Declaration of Erika Fitch, Administrative Case Manager, with attachments, p. 2. The investigation substantially confirmed Adeniyi's version of the event. The summary found that during the medical visit for his IV drip, Collins became disruptive by stopping his wheelchair with his feet and lying on the floor after he was informed by staff that he could not be housed in JRH as he requested. Collins then made verbal statements to the shift captain accusing Adeniyi of punching him with closed fists in the stomach and back, but the shift captain observed no injuries or bruises on Collins. Collins refused to provide a written statement on the day of the alleged incident but wrote one the following day accusing Adeniyi of sexual advances in violation of PREA ("Prison Rape Elimination Act"). No. video footage was available for the incident.[7] Id., pp. 3-4. The report also noted that in addition to Adeniyi's written statement of the incident, both the shift captain and one of the medical officers also provided their written statements supporting Adeniyi's version of events. Id., pp. 7-8, 15.

         The nursing assessment following physical examination of Collins on April 10, 2018, found "no redness, bruising or wound was noted [on] alleged trauma sites." ECF 7-4, Declaration of Nichole Madison, Medical Records Custodian, with pertinent medical records, p. 2. When Collins reported the PREA claim to medical staff on April 11, 2018, he was immediately interviewed and assessed by JCI medical staff. Id., p. 3. Color photos of Collins's upper torso were taken by staff during the SIR investigation. Id., pp. 25-28. When questioned by corrections staff, Collins first denied that the officer touched his "butt or [his] penis" (id.), then reported to medical staff later the same day that the "officer touched him on the rear." Id., p. 5. His physical exam was negative for any swelling or bruises. Collins was not sent to the hospital for forensic examination and follow-up because there was no indication of an exchange of bodily fluids. Id. Additional follow-up was "not indicated, as [Collins was] medically stable." Id.

         Defendant Campbell's Declaration rests on knowledge that the incident was reported and, in his capacity as Warden, Campbell expects staff to comply with prison directives and policies governing safety and ...

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